Archive for December, 2009

Google Maps & Lahore: Mapping ‘Party’

Are you map literate?  Do you reside in Lahore? 

Then you might want to check out  the Google Mapping ‘party’ taking place at FAST-NU this Saturday, 2nd  January, 2010. 

Sneak peak at what its all about— Badshahi Mosque and neighborhood.

Some information from the organizers:


FAST-NU and the Google Map Maker Community in Pakistan officially invite you to a half-day of discussion, interaction and mapping fun! Google Map Maker is an open editing tool for Google Maps, and has allowed crowd-sourced mapping of Pakistan on an unprecedented scale, as highlighted by Google.
In order to take stock of what has been accomplished so far, and more importantly, what opportunities lie ahead, FAST-NU’s ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Chapter welcomes Google to campus to host a workshop and discussion on crowd-sourced mapping of our cities. Take a look at the links below to see Lahore’s map on Google Maps today, to see how Badshahi Mosque’s neighborhood has been mapped, for example.
Now, help shape the opportunities which lie ahead for Pakistan’s urban development using maps, the internet and the power of collective public thinking.
Join us on the 2nd of January, 2010 from 12:30pm to 5:00pm, at FAST-NU (see it on the map)
….(click here to read the rest on the event page on Facebook)

For further information and to register–click here.

Important: You must pre-register at  to join in all the fun on Saturday!

If you attend–do come back to share your experience here on Lahore Metblog. :)

Muharram: living under fear of the known

Every year, the occasion of Ashura brings mourning and remembrance for the shuhada of Karbala across the Muslim world. But sadly, in our country, it is almost synonymous with further killing of the innocent souls that marks the end of first ten days of first month of the Islamic New Year. History of sectarian violence in Pakistan is old, and everyone knows what non-state actors or agencies incited hatred between two communities of the faithful to further their own interests in the battlefield called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

However, the fear of such incidents happening obviously compounds when our country and society is literally at war with extremism and radicalism. The killers did not think how many Shias would be there when Moon Market blast happened in Lahore. Nor did they consider sectarian association of thousands of innocent civilians and security forces killed in our cities, towns and the tribal agencies across the country. In such a state of war, it was a treat for terrorists to get an opportunity of inciting violence, hatred and killing amongst the very people who they have lost support from. It was their good chance of taking revenge against the common Pakistanis for defying their version of beliefs. There are no versions of this religion; Islam is only peace!

And it happened. Two incidents one after another, significant and deadly, in Muzaffarabad and Karachi, caused havoc by killing more than 50 mourners while injuring more than a hundred. Arson attacks in Karachi after yesterday’s suicide attack has led to burning of more than 2,500 shops damaging goods worth 2-3 billion rupees while crippling the country’s economic hub.

Who’s partying and raising toasts as we bleed in heart and soul? Who’s celebrating new year with resolutions to kill as many innocent Pakistanis as possible? Who is making claims of defending a religion that they themselves have drifted so far away from? We know them, don’t we? And we also know, it’s not only them as only the blind could not see who’s benefiting from this war and anarchy in our backyard.

Prayers for the martyred in Karachi and Muzaffarabad… People of Lahore and rest of the country stand by you as you are not alone; we are also bleeding from your loss!

Caution: Double Sawari during Muharram!

Double Sawari

The least Punjab Government could do to ensure security between 8-10 Muharram-ul-Haraam (December 26-28). It’s good to see at least they realize the inconvenience caused to general public. We hope they really mean it and try to be as accommodating in other issues as well.

Let’s be vigilant of our surroundings and neighborhoods to ensure a peaceful Ashura this year.

Image Credit: Imtiaz Taqi’s Facebook

Displaced Priorities

If you ever have had the guts to plan a trip to Switzerland, you will find on many websites that they actually recommend (‘they’ being your average traveler to the place, and not the officials) that you do not rent any vehicle to get around the country. Instead they point to the latest time table of the country’s public transport. I wish such a thing for Lahore. No, not a time table for public transport, but public transport itself.

I have never traveled on a bus, although I did traverse the Mall road for almost a year on the suicidal vans while doing my time at Government College. The vans were knocked up, were filled up till someone fell out through the windows and every once in while you’d get a seat next to a confused pedophile. But one thing good about those vans were that they were on a route that happened to be mine as well. Then I got upgraded to a motorbike and have not used public transport since. Not even a taxi. But there has been a desire to do so, a desire tainted with economic motivations. The desire hit me first when I started making money (while at University) and calculated the total cost of ownership of my then vehicle (a CNG-kitted Suzuki Swift – not a Khyber, a Swift!). I wished for another go at riding the public transport monster but that is when luck ran out; there was no convenient way of getting from my university to my home, other than hop twice between buses and then walk a total of a bit-more-than-one kilometer(s). So I stuck with my car. Besides, possessing a vehicle that can fit more than two individuals during college days was as cool as Fonzie.

But now I keep reading about how bad it is for the environment that the Punjab government is cutting down an estimated 1500 trees (somewhat-official figure), some hundred years old, to widen the 14 kilometer stretch of the Canal road. Environment? What? We have an environment, and no one told me about it?

But folks, seriously. Apologies to all environmentalists and ‘tree huggers’ in here and out there, but the idea of widening the Lahore Canal Road is not a bad one because we will be losing around 6,000 trees (WWF figure). Chopping trees ‘heartlessly’ can be a good thing if it is done for a good cause. But widening the canal road is not exactly a good cause.

“But look at the Lahore Canal,” you say, “the underpasses have really solved the traffic problem!” Are you on crack? Have you ever been on the Canal at rush hour? This underpass is on the left, that one is on the right and cars are all over the place. The Canal road is being widened BECAUSE there is a traffic problem that is only fuelled by the ill-planned underpasses. “But there are too many cars on the road because of them banks,” you say. Right, and there are still more cars out there, and widening the road will not leave ‘room’ for the ones already there, it will invite in more cars to fill in the space. I am sure there is some principle as solid as Archimedes’ to prove this point here. (get it? Solid principle, Archimedes? No? Never mind.)

My problem is this: you are planning to spend a tad more than 3 Billion rupees, and you have two options. Behind door number one is that you spend it on widening the Canal road (forget about the tree chopping for a moment here). You will solve nothing. Interesting.

Behind door number two is the real reason road-widening is not a good idea: public transport. Giving the city of Lahore, that keeps growing in size by the millisecond, some semblance of a public transport system in the form of buses and trains sounds like a brilliant idea, ESPECIALLY when you compare it to the dead-end canal-widening idea.

If you think, or doubt, that widening the canal road will be a good thing to solve the traffic problem, I think one of our very own Metbloggers, Mr. Rafay Alam will be in a much, much better position to answer that. The problem that I see, which is much bigger than environment and planning, is that of displaced priorities. Our job as citizens is to remind our government to do there’s.

So, there you are, 3 billion in hand. One solution is to burn it, and the other is to invest it back. A very tricky answer to this one, I assure you, right?

Sign the Save the Lahore Canal petition

To view the petition, click here.

To: Citizens of Lahore

As you may have heard, The Punjab government is planning to widen the road on both sides of the Lahore Canal, from Thokar Niaz Baig to Dharampura, as a so-called solution for the congestion on the canal road due to the rapidly increasing automobile population. The Punjab Chief Minister had announced that the project would begin immediately after Eid-ul-Azha, however, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo moto notice and effectively restrained the government from commencing work on the project on 27 November 2009. The government has not fulfilled its legal obligation of carrying out an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)for the project and the lack of transparency of the program is depriving the citizens of Lahore from having a say in this change.

It is the consensus of a great number of organizations and groups of concerned citizens that the Rs 3.15 billion project violates basic principles of traffic design and will not only prove ineffective in countering traffic congestion, but also lead to an outstanding number of problems related to the well-being of the public and the environment. Widened roads have historically proven to only end up attracting more traffic, and the government’s focus on providing for the car-owning citizen over the abounding majority (which requires public transport, sidewalks, public toilets, phones and drinking water) is entirely against the principles of equity. The project also means the cutting down of several thousand old trees and losing over 50 acres of the green belt, which is sure to lead to a staggering number of environmental problems including rising temperatures and carbon and toxic content, not to mention the loss of ancient species of trees and shrubs that provide shelter to a variety of birds and small animals. The historical, environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of this green space cannot be stressed enough.

We demand that our voice be heard to address these critical issues and help preserve the beauty and grandeur of our city.


The Undersigned

(This petition was prepared by Lahore Chitrikar and their initiative is acknowledged)

Moon Market shaken by two bomb blasts

Two bomb blasts have targeted people at the congested Moon Market in Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Town area this evening. So far more than 30 people including women and children have lost their lives with 100+ injured. A lot of shops and other buildings caught fire when the two explosions occurred in car parks of two banks with an interval of 30 seconds.

Moon Market is usually a very busy place, especially, in the evenings; the time when this unfortunate incident took place. The market is popular for ladies clothes, jewelery and was being frequented by thousands of women, children and families during the current wedding season. Police officials as well as the Lahore Commissioner had declared these as suicide attacks while forensic experts are busy carrying out further investigation. Officials now have claimed that remote controlled bombs, instead of suicide bombers, were used to create havoc.

According to witnesses and media reports, citizens have flocked to the nearby Sheikh Zayed and Jinnah Hospitals to donate blood and inquire about their loved ones.

Today was another sad day when the common man suffered consequences of a war that is not going anywhere. Our leadership seems to have no clue about how to take everyone into confidence when their own ministers travel in bomb proof vehicles while citizens become victims of terrorism right on the streets of our cities.

I remember how the PML (N) politicians including the Sharifs condemned and blamed Salman Taseer for poor security when the Sri Lankan team was attacked. Now, they are in power themselves, and have no one else to blame things on. Should we expect mass resignations at least now? Or do they have a better explanation?

BBC News Coverage: BBC News

Dawn: Dawn News

Imanae Malik – victim of criminal negligence of doctors

Imanae Malik billboard at Adil Hospital Lahore

Imanae Malik billboard at Adil Hospital Lahore

Source: Imanae Malik billboard

You can read Imanae’s story at this website: Imanae’s Story

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